natematias's blog

Green Vs Pink: Change Your Picture, Change The World

This post was a collaboration with Molly Sauter and Matt Stempeck

Movements of people changing their profile photos on social networks do definitely achieve one thing: they draw out the slacktivist critics.  

During the 2009 Iranian election protests, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users turned their profile pictures green in solidarity with the protesters. This became the slacktivist strawman everyone had been praying for: naive American Twitter users taking the laziest possible action to support a foreign conflict because it was the cool thing to do. Or, if you were on the other side of the fence, it was the strongest show of solidarity between Americans and Iranians in...ever?

Brooding on the meaning of a word

At the Center for Civic Media, we do a lot of quantitative media analysis, trying to answer questions of public value by finding patterns across millions of articles, tweets, and TV captions. As a former student of poetry, I'm often aware of how much we miss.

Today, a dear friend sent me a link to the gorgeous poem Peace by the 19th century Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. As I read this poem today for the first time, I was deeply moved by the word "brood," a word which is also prominent in Hopkins' more famous poem, God's Grandeur. Here's Peace:

Saying Thanks Online: The Visual Display of Cooperative Acknowledgment

Last November, I proposed that we redesign acknowledgment on the web to be more like a party and less like a duty. Promising to redesign my personal portfolio, I also promised to define an architecture that enables us to thank anyone anywhere, even in parts of the web which make acknowledgment difficult. Supervised by Mitch Resnick, and with helpful advice from many others, I have finished the alpha version of my portfolio. Here's what I learned.

AcknowledgerSurvey

Data, Experiments, and Social Networks: Social Media and Behavioral Economics

I'm here at the Harvard Law School to blog their conference on "Social Media and Behavioral Economics." This is the opening session, which sets the stage for the rest of the day's conversation.

Women, News, and the Internet: (almost) Everything We Know

In my upcoming master's thesis, I'm making large-scale, automated technologies to measure and change the representation of women in news online. Judith Donath, one of my thesis readers, has strongly challenged the assumptions of this project. Can I actually make a good argument that women should have a fair and equal voice in society? Can I create a reasonable definition of equality, one that's good enough to include in computer software?

A positive vision of the role of women in the news needs to start with an understanding of the role they currently play: what are women watching, how are they using their voices, are those voices being heard, how are they presented in the news, and how does that influence what happens in society?

This is the first part of my answer to Judith, a review of what we know about women, news, and the Internet. Have I missed anything? Add it in the comments.

Expanding Our Imaginations Together: The Festival of Learning 2013

Learning always requires us to expand the boundaries of our imagination, for individuals and organisations alike. Although innovators often reach for creative disruption, we can also expand our capability to learn through the positive power of inspiration and cooperation.

My own capacity for inspiration was reset this week at the Festival of Learning, a creative gathering for everyone in the MIT Media Lab, Comparative Media Studies, and Arts, Culture, and Technology. (I'm on the organising team)

 

The Theology of Evangelical Action on Immigration Reform

This weekend, I'm at Urbana, a gathering of Christian students interested in the work of the church worldwide. Over the next few days, I will be blogging two kinds of sessions. Sessions like this morning's gathering are intended to inspire and challenge Christian students to consider international service. This afternoon, I blogged a fascinating talk on the theological underpinnings of evangelical action on immigration.

Two Media Tech Ideas for Distributed Solidarity

In this parallel post alongside one by Denise Cheng, I review the media-making practices of 350.org, who coordinate thousands of events into global days of climate action. I also propose two technology designs for collaboratively tagging and remixing media from an event.

Read Denise's post on the story and mission of 350.org, annotate this post using ReadrBoard, or suggest your own ideas

Here at the Center for Civic Media, we have spent the last year discussing the idea of peer-based politics. In a Media Lab talk at the beginning of the year, Rebecca McKinnon argued that international politics sometimes needs the consent of the networked.

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